Boomer Esiason rips Maryland for 'shameful lack of leadership'

Chris Lingebach
August 20, 2018 - 10:59 am
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Camille Fine-USA TODAY

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Prominent Maryland alum Boomer Esiason is disgusted by the "shameful lack of leadership" shown by the school's president and athletic director in the wake of Jordan McNair's death.

All morning, Esiason took aim at Maryland president Wallace Loh and athletic director Damon Evans during his CBS Sports Minutes, which air once per hour on sports radio stations across the country. A football player at Maryland, McNair died on June 13 from heatstroke, which he suffered during an organized team workout on May 29.

It wasn't until ESPN published a series of reports – one of which, on Aug. 11, outlined Maryland's severe neglect in properly treating McNair – that Loh and Evans took public action. First, by placing head football coach D.J. Durkin and several staffers on administrative leave. Secondly, by accepting "moral" and "legal" responsibility for McNair's death two whole months later.

Esiason's first CBS Sports Minute Monday morning:

"Jordan McNair was a 19-year-old offensive lineman at the University of Maryland, who collapsed of heatstroke in a May 29 workout and died two weeks later. As a Maryland alumnus, the heartbreak that I share over the McNair family's unspeakable tragedy has only been compounded by my disgust with the shameful lack of leadership displayed by University President Wallace Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans. Last week, they finally accepted moral and legal responsibility for McNair's death. So why did it take two and a half months for them to do the right thing? Sadly, the frustrated McNair family would probably still be waiting for the answers and the compensation they rightly deserve had they not hired a lawyer who lit a fire by leaking information to ESPN. Loh and Evans are reportedly on shaky ground. This would be a good time for both of them to exit."

On Friday, the Maryland System Board of Regents held a four-hour meeting to review the school's response to McNair's death, afterwards assuming full control over an investigation by an independent commission, that was publicly announced by Loh only three days earlier. The board reportedly came away expecting to take further action, which could lead to the ouster of Loh, Evans and Durkin.

Esiason's second update:

"Earlier I called out the University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and Athletic Director Damon Evans for their shameful lack of leadership in the wake of the tragic heatstroke death of 19-year-old lineman Jordan McNair. Beyond their inexcusable two and a half months of inaction, The Washington Post now has reported that Loh blocked a proposal that last year would have significantly upgraded standard of health care for Terrapin athletes, by having trainers report to the University's independent medical center in Baltimore rather than to the athletic department. Now it's impossible to determine whether such a change might have enabled the trainers to properly handle McNair's fatal heatstroke. However, treating athletes' health and safety as an academic political football reflects poorly on Loh and the University. More in the next hour."

A second ESPN report, on Aug. 10, called Maryland football out for having a "toxic coaching culture" in which players were reportedly belittled, humiliated and embarrassed, frequently. That led to the firing of head strength and conditioning coach Rick Court, whose dismissal was announced by Loh and Evans during their press conference last Tuesday.

Esiason's third update:

"The untimely passing of 19-year-old University of Maryland lineman Jordan McNair this past June has triggered a pair of investigations. One, into the training staff's apparently tragic mistakes in treating McNair's heatstroke; and the other, into the football program itself, which has allegedly developed what ESPN likes to call a, quote, 'toxic culture.' Those who are of mind to abolish football have promoted this 'toxic culture' narrative. But big-time college football isn't Tiddlywinks, folks. I certainly understand that it's not for everyone, and I also acknowledge that there are bad apples in coaching, as there are, unfortunately, in all walks of life. Now that said, there is no doubt in my mind that the virtues of football far outweigh the physical risks. Football teaches hard work, discipline, dedication, respect and teamwork – all things we should all be better at."

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